ROKU

What it is
Roku came out a few years ago, just ahead of smart TVs, looking to integrate changing technology with our TVs. With the rise of Netflix, Roku became the premiere device to stream movies and tv shows in your living room, without having to huddle around the laptop.

These small boxes take up little to no space, hook up to your TV and almost disapear. Within a couple minutes, you and your family are surfing Netflix, downloading and playing apps, or catching up on your favorite news station. Full of both free and paid content, Roku has established themselves as a real contender of living room entertainment.

device-roku

What it does
With a low price point the Roku comes in different shapes and sizes, but with the same user experience. One selling point about the Roku is there is no monthly fee. You buy the box and you own it.

When you connect your Roku, the first thing you’ll be required to do is connect to your wifi—without it you have, well, just a box. Once you’re connected and create a free Roku account, you can begin browsing their app store, providing a wide range of options from the WWE network to Netflix, from Watch ESPN to TBN, there really is something for everyone.

Now it’s important to note: many of these channels will require some form of membership or premium service fee.

Kid Appeal/Pitfalls
From playing Angry Birds to watching their favorite show on Netflix, there is a lot of content avalible to whet your child’s appitite. By the same token, though, there is also a lot of undesirable content available within some of the apps. Keep in mind: you need to decide what you’re going to make available to browse through. The Roku itself really has no Parental Controls like most other devices on the market.

What parents will need to do is set up a PIN code in your Roku settings online to help prevent your children from downloading or installing any innapropriate apps. There is no way to block content within a specific app once it’s downloaded, so keep that in mind.

Let’s take Netflix for example. Once you’ve set it up on your Roku, it doesn’t take more than a couple clicks for your kids to end up in the back alleys of their library when all they were searching for was the next episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates. You’ll need to set up a kids’ account within Netflix to keep your kids safe on the service; Roku can’t do that for you.

There are also several pornographic apps available that Roku does not advertise in their app store. However, these apps are available online and can be activated from a computer rather than used on the Roku. Seems confusing, but all it takes is giving out the PIN code, and endless amounts of adult content is unlocked on these devices. So to prevent all this, be sure to log into your account on the Roku website, and setup a PIN code.

What’s Good?
The Roku is a great device, especially for younger kids with parents who are on top of it. A Roku that’s solely used for Netflix and Amazon Prime, for example, can be very convenient. And with high-speed wifi and a decent HDMI cable, you’ll be able to watch all the HD streaming content your eyeballs can handle. Not to mention the rise of games becoming available, it’s sure to provide hours of entertainment.

What’s the verdict?
We give the Roku a cautionary thumbs-up, and we say that only because of the lack of more precise Parental Controls. Make sure you set up that PIN code lock before ever giving the remote to your kids.

It needs to be said, you must go in and set these up yourself. If not, you’re giving your family wide open un-monitored access to the internet.